At 30 basis points yield, a short on this German Bund via the futures market is basically a call option on the utter destruction of this Massive Yield Chasing Strategy on behalf of financial institutions...
Yesterday we commented on the outsized macro impact that one company already excerts on the world, when we reported that in the fourth quarter, a whopping 60% of retail sales growth was due to the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 in the fall of 2014, and the surge of Chinese tourists who tok advantage of Hong Kong's lower prices and earlier release. So how about the micro level? For the answer we present the chart below. Behold: the AAPL effect, which demonstrates that what until AAPL's release was shaping up to be a flat Q4 earnings season for the S&P 500, has since transformed into Q4 EPS growth of 2.1%, and made Apple the largest contributor to earnings growth for the S&P 500 at the company level for the fourth quarter. All this, thanks to just one company!
When Eric Holder announced his resignation, many breathed a sigh of relief thinking it can’t get much worse, but not so fast. The authoritarian streak and rampant cronyism of the Obama administration is a well oiled machine. You didn’t think you’d get off that easily did you? Enter Loretta Lynch.
Echoing Elliott's Paul Singer's "greatest irony of politicians railing against inequality," former Reagan OMB Director David Stockman raged that when it comes to inequality, everyone can see the symptom, but "President Obama is clueless as to the cause," blasting that the problem is not capitalism, "the problem is in the Eccles Building and the 12 people sitting there thinking that zero interest rates are some magic elixir that will cause this very toubled economy to revive.! It won't, "these people are dangerous and destructive," Stockman exclaims, and sooner or later the inequality they have created is going to cause a huge political reaction.
Recent market actions, the rapid decline in interest rates, earnings deterioration and plunging energy prices have made many less comfortable being long the market. While the "buy and hold" crowd suggests this is all rubbish, it should be worth remembering that every single one of that group never saw the corrections in 2000 or 2008 until it was far too late. Their only excuse was "no one could have seen it coming." The truth is that many did see what was coming. Paying attention to what is happening at the margin leads to an understanding of when the "tides" begin to shift.
US Treasury yields are plunging again this morning. From 4Y maturities out, yields are around 10bps lower with 30Y under 2.30%, 10Y under 1.65%, 7% under 1.5%, and 3Y under 75bps!! Since QE3 ended, 30Y bond yields are 84bps lower, 2Y 3bps lower.
While the US daytime trading session has lately become a desperate attempt to expand multiples on the declining earnings of the S&P500, thanks to recurring BOJ intervention in the USDJPY, to keep the S&P above the 100 SMA at all costs including generous central banker verbal intervention then it is during the US overnight session when global deflationary reality reasserts itself with a vengeance, and sure enough at last check, the 10 Year has rallied with 10Y yield hitting 1.71% before this morning’s 4Q GDP release, as well as following the latest deflation number of -0.6% out of Europe (worse than the -0.5% expected) which was the biggest price decline on the continent since 2009. "Treasuries remained well bid overnight due to month-end index adjustments. Some talk of a reallocation from equities to bonds trade going through in both Asia and continuing in Europe," ED&F Man head of rates and credit trading Tom di Galoma wrote in a note to explain the latest Great Unrotation, if only until the Virtu HFT algos get the full blessing of the Fed to ramp the USDJPY, and thus the stock market.
Despite the evident failure of the ‘extend and pretend’ logic, it is still being implemented to this day. Most of you, dear German readers, will have formed a preconception of what this article is about before you actually read it. I am imploring you not to succumb to such preconceptions. Prejudice was never a good guide, especially during periods when an economic crisis reinforces stereotypes and breeds biggotry, nationalism, even violence...
Say you are a socialist, and you have intervened heavily in the economy. Suddenly, things don’t work as you thought they would. Somehow, economic laws seem to refuse to bend to your will. However, you cannot really believe that since according to your convictions, wealth is a byproduct of government plans and decrees. So the solution to the unintended consequences of the initial intervention is to intervene further, in an attempt to refine the plan, so to speak. So you try again. And again. And again. Chances are, your name is Nicolas Maduro. In summary, the thread by which Venezuelan socialism hangs may soon snap.
It is my expectation, unless these deflationary trends reverse course in very short order, that if the Fed raises rates it will invoke a fairly negative response from both the markets and economy. However, I also believe that the Fed understands that we are closer to the next economic recession than not. For the Federal Reserve, the worst case scenario is being caught with rates at the "zero bound" when that occurs. For this reason, while raising rates will likely spark a potential recession and market correction, from the Fed’s perspective this might be the “lesser of two evils.”
For months now we have been discussing that despite the "hopes" that this time is different, there is little chance that the U.S. can remain an island of economic prosperity in the sea of global deflation. The following series of charts all suggest that current hopes of surging economic growth in the U.S., over the next several quarters, will likely be met with disappointment.
Over the last 100 years the Fed has had many mandates and policy changes in its pursuit of becoming the chief central economic planner for the US. Not only has it pursued this utopian dream of planning the US economy and financing every boondoggle conceivable in the welfare/warfare state, it has become the manipulator of the premier world reserve currency. All this effort by thousands of planners in the Federal Reserve, Congress, and the bureaucracy to achieve a stable financial system and healthy economic growth has failed. It must be the case that it has all been misdirected. And just maybe a free market and a limited government philosophy are the answers for sorting it all out without the economic planners setting interest and CPI rate increases. A simpler solution to achieving a healthy economy would be to concentrate on providing a “SOUND DOLLAR” as the Founders of the country suggested.
In the QE era, monetary policy has lost any semblance of discipline and coherence. As Draghi attempts to deliver on his nearly two-and-a-half-year-old commitment, the limits of his promise – like comparable assurances by the Fed and the BOJ – could become glaringly apparent. Like lemmings at the cliff’s edge, central banks seem steeped in denial of the risks they face.
At this point only an act of god, or a sudden Saudi change of heart to cut crude production by 50% (unclear which is more probable) can prevent a recession in Texas. However, one state that few thought would be impaired as a result of the crude plunge, is California. Yet as the LA Times reports, it is precisely California, and specifically Kern County located in the middle of the state and containing the farmer town of Bakersfield and countless oil rigs, that yesterday declared a state of fiscal emergency during the weekly supervisors' meeting on Tuesday. The reason: predictions of a massive shortfall in property tax revenues because of tanking oil prices.
The latest corporate scam is to blame workers for the high unemployment rate. They say there is a skills gap. Even President Obama is in on the joke. The real skills gap is the other way around: too many skills for the low-wage menial jobs that pervade the labor market. The person who makes your coffee or your Big Mac might be able to design the next major bridge or write for The New York Times. Instead of high school kids cooking up your lunch, true professionals are behind the counter, and the future of the country is behind it too. The longer they stay there, the odds increase that America will take a permanent backseat in global power. In one short century, we have gone from superpower to super size me, a plutocracy, a nation that wasted its most valuable resource: the energy and innovation of its own people.